I hadn’t seen another PCT hiker in 6 1/2 days, so when I caught up to Germinator navigating the steep, overgrown switchbacks down to Rte 70 in Belden, I talked his ear off. In actuality, I’ve enjoyed the relative solitude over this past week. It gave me a chance to do things like: read my book at streams, hike 30-mile days, study the dusty footprints of those who are ahead of me, watch cars go by at road crossings, and plan my future (aka how to earn enough money to hike another long trail).
This stretch of trail has been relatively uneventful, although now that I’m down at lower elevations (usually 5-6,000 feet) and it’s the middle of summer, the heat is back. It’s comparable to what I experienced in the desert, except with more humidity, but also more trees for shade. Germinator and I are now sitting at Caribou Crossroads, which “makes a damn good potato salad.” I’m eating a jalapeño burger and fries. This place is an RV park, but to me it looks like the kind of place where RVs go to die. Belden proper is a small river town along Rte 70, sandwiched between near vertical cliffs. It seems like the type of town where meth use may be problematic as not everyone we’ve said hi to has been especially friendly. Good burgers at least.
We hike on this evening and, after a few hours will have left the Sierra Nevada for good. Even though I passed through the high Sierra a while ago, geologically the Sierra Nevada is now just about complete. From here, the trail begins passing a long string of isolated volcanoes from Lassen, which I’ll pass in a few days, all the way up through Washington state. I’ll even pass near my old beat-up buddy Rainier, whose slopes were battered by storms last year. 1,325 miles, the official halfway point, is close and Old Station, my next stop, is 3 1/2 days from here. Germinator and I have agreed to do the 88-mile stretch together, so I’ll have some company for a change.
Addendum: Twenty minutes after this writing, Speedstick is here! She had been following my tracks for the past few days. She, however, is resupplying in Chester, so it’s still just me and Germinator to Old Station.